Cobra Kai 5: Yuji Okumoto on Chozen's Lifestyle & Potential Romance
One of the most pleasant surprises of Cobra Kai is Yuji Okumoto's Chozen Toguchi, Daniel LaRusso's (Ralph Macchio) rival in The Karate Kid Part II (1986). Reintroduced in the Netflix series' season three, Chozen's the second bully-turned-ally from Daniel's past after William Zabka's Johnny Lawrence. When Daniel revisited Okinawa, Japan, he ran into two familiar faces from the John Avildsen film in Tamlyn Tomita's Kumiko and Okumoto's Chozen. The latter became a master who taught him a new Miyagi-do technique that isolated pressure points that temporarily disabled an opponent's affected limb. In season five, Chozen visits Daniel to help settle a score with Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith), who has plans to expand Cobra Kai throughout the Valley and beyond. The actor spoke about his bold reintroduction in the latest season and a potential romance for his character's future. The following contains spoilers.
After Silver's latest tech-oriented ad for his dojo, we see a figure swimming at the LaRusso house as Amanda (Courtney Henggeler) is picking up laundry. When she gets poolside, it's revealed the swimmer is Chozen in the buff, so to speak, much to the LaRusso matriarch's dismay. "When I saw that [in the script], I said, 'Oh my God, seriously? I've gotta show my butt on camera?'" recalls Okumoto. "I said, 'I don't know if they want to see an old dude's butt. Maybe you should get somebody else to do this,'" confirming he had a butt double and Chozen is a nudist.
Okumoto recalled pitching the scene as "a hilarious entrance to the whole season." "I actually wanted [Chozen to be holding] a small towel, and they gave me a bigger towel instead," he adds. "It would have been funny if he was holding this small little face towel." Aside from the pool scene and Okumoto's comedic timing, it's revealed late in the season how he's been harboring feelings for Kumiko all this time, which might signal a possible return for Tomita if a season six would emerge.
"When we were filming the phone call, I wanted to have that sense of [Chozen being] uncomfortable. 'Oh, what am I doing?' It was so much fun to play those moments, those beats of Chozen's uncomfortableness talking to possibly the love of his life," Okumoto said. "He's probably kept this flame inside of him burning for all these years but never said anything, maybe out of respect for Daniel-san. I think when Daniel says it's okay, just go for it, Chozen is like, 'Oh, wow!' And I made that call. It'll be interesting to see where that goes after that." For more, you can check out the entire Entertainment Weekly interview here.